Saturday, January 13, 2018

LAT 5:38 (Derek) 


Newsday 34:44 (Derek) 


NYT 4:27 (Amy) 


WSJ untimed (pannonica) 


Alan DerKazarian’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 1 13 18, no 0113

(Slight typo in the byline in the .puz file, unless the constructor has stopped capitalizing the K.) This is Alan’s first published themeless, and it’s got some neat stuff in it. Like that EGG MCMUFFIN, PRIDE PARADE, I’M IMPRESSED, SORE SPOT, SOLANGE, UNITED FRONT, and LANGUOR (I love those Latinate nouns ending in -or, with extra credit for the U). EL DUQUE, NORMA RAE, and ROUGH IT are in the second tier, also good.

On the duller side, we’ve got SEMIARID, SUCRES, BIT/SEC, roll-your-own FUELERS and REARER, HIREES, and AREOLAR.

Five more things:

  • 29a. [London or Manchester], WRITER. Tricky clue. I cannot think of a writer named Manchester other than songwriter Melissa Manchester. I presume the intended London is Jack.
  • In the “Who in the world…?” category, we have 31a. [Charles of “Hill Street Blues”], HAID and 48d. [Country music’s Mike ___] ELI. I had assumed that the Eli Young Band was led by someone named Eli Young, but no, it’s Mike Eli and James Young. Never did watch much of HSB.
  • 24d. [Annual June celebration], PRIDE PARADE. Some cities have their pride events in July or other months, but in general, the biggest pride festivities in the U.S. do take place in June.
  • 11d. [2/2, in music], CUT TIME. Not a musical term I knew.
  • 27d. [Stuck-up sort], PRISS. I think the clue’s wrong. That clue works for PRIG. A PRISS is more fussy, old-fashioned, anal-retentive.

Looking at PRISS (which most dictionaries don’t include—presumably it’s used here as a back-formation from prissy), I’m wishing the area where PRIMA HAID BITSEC are crossing HIREES and PRISS had been reworked. CRIME WRITES crossing AREOLES and actor Darren CRISS (he’s in the upcoming season of American Crime Story, playing Gianni Versace’s killer, Andrew Cunanan) could work, but crossing actor HAID with CRISS is patently unfair. Really don’t care for the HAID/BITSEC combo, though.

3.5 stars from me. Here’s Solange to play us out.

Daniel Hamm’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Weld Done!” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 1/13/18 • “Weld Done!” • Sat • Hamm • solution

Autological title. In addition to describing the theme conceit, it also demonstrates it. And that is two-word phrases in which a /d/ sound at the beginning of the second is copied and suffixed to the first. Respelling as necessary.

  • 22a. [Sock hops that are really hopping?] TOAD DANCES (toe dance).
  • 24a. [Clone of a kernel?] SEED DOUBLE (see double).
  • 40a. [“The skin of an animal, especially when tanned”?] HIDE DEFINITION (high (or hi-) definition).
  • 54a. [Snowdrift?] COLD DEPOSIT (coal deposit).
  • 64a. [Feature of a Renaissance Faire costumer’s manual?] BARD DIAGRAM (bar diagram).
  • 79a. [Roughly 15 feet by 6 feet by 5 feet, for the Focus?] FORD DIMENSIONS (four dimensions).
  • 98a. [Period when honeyed drinks were popular?] MEAD DECADE (“Me” Decade).
  • 101a. [Art gallery owner, on occasion?] NUDE DEALER (New Dealer). As in, a proponent of FDR’s policies.

So: well done?

  • 61d [Swift works] SATIRES, 105a [Swift specialty] SATIRE.
  • 33d [Parapsychology powers] PSI. Seems dupey, since it’s probably derived  by shortening and alteration from ‘psychic’.
  • 53a [Singers Maggie and Patsy] CLINES. 5a [It’s inclined to move up and down] RAMP. Not a duplication, but I wanted to pair these anyway.
  • 26a [Elementary curriculum] THREE R’S. For reading, writing, arithmetic. Spellin’, not so much?
  • 87a [Carmine’s cousin] CERISE. Obviously red hues, but! apparently there is Ever After High: per Wikipedia, it’s “a fashion doll franchise released by Mattel in July 2013. It is a companion line to the Monster High dolls. However, in this line the characters are based upon characters from fairy tales and fantasy stories instead of monsters. As with Monster High and Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, the line varies in different countries and varies in languages. It has spawned a web series, a film, and two book series.” And in this franchise among the “rebel” characters (those “students [who] do not agree with their destinies and want their own destiny”) is CERISE Hood (Red Ringing Hood’s daughter) and she has a pet dire wolf named Carmine. Going to take a shower now.


Alan DerKazarian’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

I am not too familiar with this constructor, but he is pulling a double today, as the NYT puzzle is his as well! Unlike that one, this LAT Saturday challenge actually has kind of a theme, although it seems to be just slogans, unless I am missing something very clever. Here are the longer entries:

  • 20A [’60s counterculture slogan] MAKE LOVE NOT WAR
  • 25A [Cry of dominance] WHO’S YOUR DADDY!
  • 45A [20-mile annual Boston-area fundraiser sponsored by Project Bread] WALK FOR HUNGER  – This is obscure, and thus why this is a Saturday puzzle. I assume it may be even more obscure for people in LA, although no one is “from” there!
  • 51A [Excuse for rowdy behavior] BOYS WILL BE BOYS

Maybe the longer theme-type entries is what made this play a little easier than a normal themeless grid. Should we include the 15-letter entry at 7D as well? LIVES OFF THE LAND crosses all of the other longer entries, which in itself is a feat of construction. But it hits well on the fun meter, and that is what matters! 4.1 stars.

A few more things:

  • 14A [Former Sony brand] AIWA – I remember this brand. They made audio equipment. High-end stuff, if I recall correctly. It does look like they are pretty much defunct.
  • 18A [Mail-order outlet for outdoorsy types] ORVIS – This is slightly obscure. Maybe because I am NOT an “outdoorsy type.”
  • 61A [Merci, across the border] DANKE – Across the German border. Am I missing diacritical marks in my spelling?
  • 4D [Hindu god with the head of an elephant] GANESHA – I thought the god was named Ganesh? Is it either?
  • 25D [Area of expertise] WHEELHOUSE – This puzzle was “in my wheelhouse!”
  • 36D [“Foucault’s Pendulum” author] ECO – The late Umberto Eco was/is a staple in crosswords with that name. I should read one of his books just for that reason!

Sadly, today I have to attend the viewing of one my cousins. Only 52 years old, she succumbed to complications from sarcoidosis. It will not be a fun day.

Frank Longo’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up

Yes, that does say 35 minutes for this one. I wasn’t necessarily rushing, partly because I was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning, and partly because I was so stumped in areas of this puzzle I was literally not filling anything in for long stretches of time! But sometimes these difficult puzzles are so hard they literally make my angry, but that is not the case with this one. I felt … challenged, but in a way that I wanted to finish! And finish I did, after a mini-eternity. Not that I didn’t expect this when I saw Frank’s byline! You will see a couple of errors in the iPad image (which, now that I think of it, can be my excuse for a slow solving time: typing on an iPad is slower!), but after I checked what was wrong the puzzle sailed smoothly for about 15 seconds, then I was severely stuck in the NW corner. 2D [Cry that might precede a spill] NO HANDS! is a really, really good clue! If you are like me, solving this one brought a wry smile to your face! Kudos to Frank again for another joyfully agonizing puzzle! 4.7 stars today.

A few mentions:

  • 19A [“We create music” sloganeer] ASCAP – You knew this was some acronym. This one stands for the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. It helps protect musicians copyrights.
  • 26A [USMA grad in Omar Bradley’s class]  DDE – There is an indication of an abbreviation here, but I still thought this might be Robert E. LEE! I think they may have graduated like 75 years apart! (I looked it up; they were actually 86 years apart!!)
  • 56A [The multinational “Seven Sisters,” in the ’60s] OIL CARTEL – OPEC has a lot of the power now, and the seven companies in this group are now parts of only 3 or 4 mega-companies.
  • 61A [Made like some dimmer switches] METAL-CLAD – When I think of something as “metal-clad,” it is not a dimmer switch. Maybe it’s just me!
  • 11D [One of the Leeward Antilles] BONAIRE – I think of the ABC islands, but the Leeward Antilles include some Venezuelan islands also.
  • 22D [State with the highest % of land held by the Forest Service] IDA. – I guess the “%” is an abbreviation indicator! I thought for sure this was FLA, with the Everglades being so big. Great piece of trivia!
  • 29D [ __ candy] EAR – “Eye candy” is used more, I feel, but I knew Frank wouldn’t use EYE in here twice! (See 42D)

It is snowing as I type this. When is spring coming??

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20 Responses to Saturday, January 13, 2018

  1. Dr. Fancypants says:

    So is BITSEC supposed to mean bit/sec? That’s the only way I could make sense of it, but if that’s correct, it seems like a cheat to leave out the slash. And bit-sec is not a unit of data transfer speed.

  2. Penguins says:

    Some nice clues like “Measures of sharpness” and “Field work” but too trivia heavy for my tastes.

    Good LAT

    Stumper pain later

  3. Steve Manion. says:

    i am pretty sure the writer is William Manchester, who wrote a famous book about the Kennedy assassination.

    I am glad I knew that because I did not know much else in this one. The N was extremely hard for me. Only the SE went quickly.


    • Lise says:

      William Manchester also wrote an excellent book about medieval times called “A World Lit Only By Fire”.

      The NYT kept me busy for quite a while. I thought the fill was excellent, although HAID needed every cross. I will file that one away alongside EDEN as a PM, which I remembered this morning without any effort (first time that’s happened! yay!).

    • Mick says:

      William Manchester also wrote “American Caesar”, an excellent biography of Douglas MacArthur.

  4. MattF says:

    NYT was good, I particularly liked the call-out to EULER. His polyhedral theorem

    isn’t quite as well-known as other things he proved, but it’s very amazing.

  5. Alan D(erKazarian) says:

    Thanks for capitalizing the K in my name, Amy. Not sure why the NYT shrank it. The print version is all caps, so no issue there. The Der is a prefix to Kazarian so it really should be capitalized. There should even probably be a space between the two, but our family has never done that.

    As you might notice I have today’s LAT as well. Totally amazing coincidence. These two puzzles are the only two I currently have accepted anywhere, and they were accepted more than six months apart. For them to run on the same Saturday…weird.

    Admittedly BITSEC is bad. But without it, that whole section would have been much less interesting, as I remember. You can see an example of its use here: It looks like it was the preferred term to bps back in the ’80s. Articles in Computerworld and the like are riddled with the term.

    • Alan D(erKazarian) says:

      I forgot to mention that I think this variation on a tried-and-true themeless grid has never been used before in the NYT. That was the impetus of the puzzle.

      • Norm says:

        The bi-diagonal symmetry [there’s probably a real name for it] was one of the first things that struck me. Very nice puzzle, as was the LAT. Congratulations on the two-fer.

    • Martin says:

      Great work, Alan. You should definitely let Will Shortz know they misspelled your name. They care about such things.

      We of the nerd persuasion are less bothered by “bit/sec,” which is admittedly a thing, if a rare thing, than the omission of the division operation. “Bit sec” means bits times seconds, not bits divided by seconds. Theoretically, a weak entry could have been made at-least-not-wrong by alluding to the slash in the clue, “Measure of data transfer speed, for short, which includes a slash.”

      Of course, that clue is terminally awful, even though it would have changed an arguably incorrect entry into a merely bad entry. I really can’t disagree with Will that, since the entry is inferable and would not be revealed to many solvers strictly by the clue, an inaccurate clue is probably better than a very cumbersome one.

  6. David Halbstein says:

    I particularly liked seeing “EULER” and “FUELER” in the same grid – on first glance it might seem that they are different ways of spelling a similar pronunciation, but “EULER” is pronounced “OILER”, which might also be a member of a pit crew. Probably unintended punning, but fun nonetheless.

  7. Sue Koehler says:

    Anyone who watched the new season of “The Crown” would have filled in EDEN right away.

  8. Pat says:

    Derek, I agree (re the LA Times) that Ganesh is the only way I’ve heard the elephant god referred to in India by Hindus. (Unless of course he was married and Ganesha was his wife!!) Oh, look at that – Ganesh is accepted as spelled correctly, but Ganesha is marked (underlined in red) as misspelled.

  9. Penguins says:

    “But sometimes these difficult puzzles are so hard they literally make my angry…”

    Been there. The NE was the last to fall for me. Was unfamiliar with BONAIRE, AVOCETS, WASP and GENESEE took a while to summon.

  10. Brenda Rose says:

    In the LAT: An excuse for rowdy behavior? Boys will Be Boys? Cmon. It’s 2018.
    Amy my dear you have often called out this sort of thing.
    This is a similar phrase that was used by Melania to excuse her husband for touching women below the belt. FLOTUS called it Locker Room Behavior. I’d like to know when it was the last time Mrs. Trump was in a locker room & heard that sort of conversation.
    The Time is Up. Boys can act like boys but when they grow up, men have an obligation to be adult whether they like it or not. Just like women.

    • pannonica says:

      Yes, it’s beyond tone deaf in this day and age.

    • Ellen Nichols says:

      Yes, awful excuse for behavior that is in the Yellow Zone or even the Red Zone. These terms were used in my 80’s diversity training.

    • Lois says:

      There is not only a sexual definition of rowdy behavior, even if one doesn’t want to give this sort of slack to one sex only.

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